Mount Carmel (Chicago) outfielder Alek Thomas, the son of Allen Thomas, the longtime strength and conditioning coach for the Chicago White Sox, has been hanging around Guaranteed Rate Field since he was three or four and has seen firsthand how Adam Engel and Andruw Jones patrolled center field.
“I’ve picked up the mental aspect of the game, what they say when they go 0-for-4, or what they do when they struggle and how they get their way out of it,” Thomas said.
Thomas, a 5-11, 175-pound senior, has played varsity baseball, football and basketball at Mount Carmel and has signed to play baseball and football at Texas Christian. However, he’s a potential first-round choice in major league baseball’s June 4 Amateur draft.
Through 35 games this season for Mount Carmel, he’s hitting .426 with nine homers, 55 runs scored and 40 RBI, striking out only four times in 122 at-bats.
Thomas plays his travel ball for the White Sox Amateur City Elite (ACE) and Kenny Fullman, the co-founder and program director of ACE, first remembers noticing Thomas’ potential several years ago.
“When he first came to our Area Code tryouts when he was 14 or 15, I saw him in BP hit five balls off a dorm behind the University of Illinois at Chicago,” Fulllman said. “He can hit with power. He’s hit a lot of round-trippers with the Chicago ACE program.”
Mount Carmel’s home games are played on Haggerty Field, only a few blocks from Lake Michigan, so Thomas has learned to play the outfield in Chicago’s famed winds.
“Some days the wind is pretty active,” Thomas said. “You just run to where to think the ball is going to be and react. It really is just getting used to the wind. I’ve put in a lot of reps in the outfield when there’s batting practice.”
This past summer, he hit .361 for Team USA’s U18 squad. This spring, he’s helped lead Mount Carmel to a 25-10 record, including a 2-2 finish in the prestigious National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C.
“It was really good for us to go to North Carolina and play,” he said. “We had only played three games prior to that. It was a great chance to see good pitching and come back with a full head of steam.”
He’s looking to improve on all areas of his game, particularly his arm strength. Fullman said Thomas makes adjustments well because of his baseball background.
“Alek’s baseball IQ is off the charts,” Fullman said. “He understands the game. He’s really great going in defensive counts with his at-bats. He can hit and can hit with power and hits velocity pretty well.”